3 Storey Houses in Brisbane – A Guide

With recent changes to the way three storey houses are assessed under Brisbane City Plan at the end of 2016 we thought we would provide detail process of how we would determine whether a house requires assessment (or how you can avoid assessment). This information has only regard to storeys, not building height which are similar but different issues from a planning perspective.

 

 Step 1: Defining what is a storey

You will firstly need to understand the legislative defintions of what actually constitutes a storey

A storey is currently defined as:

(a) means a space within a building between 2 floor levels, or a floor level and a ceiling or roof, other than—

(i) a space containing only a lift shaft, stairway or meter room; or

(ii) a space containing only a bathroom, shower room, laundry, toilet or other sanitary compartment; or

(iii) a space containing only a combination of the things stated in subparagraph (i) or (ii); or

(iv) a basement with a ceiling that is not more than 1m above ground level; and

(b) includes—

(i) a mezzanine; and

(ii) a roofed structure that is on, or part of, a rooftop, if the structure does not only accommodate building plant and equipment.

 

Further definitions to understand:

Basement means a space—

(a) between a floor level in a building and the floor level that is immediately below it; and

(b) no part of which is more than 1m above ground level.

 

Ground level means—

(a) the level of the natural ground; or

(b) if the level of the natural ground has changed, the level lawfully changed. 

Editor’s note—Section 1.7.5 provides that for the purpose of the definition of ground level in Schedule 1, the level of the natural ground is deemed to have been lawfully changed if the level of the natural ground level is the prescribed level.

 

In summary, you can have a building that appears as three storeys, but if one level meets the above criteria in bold, it is not considered a storey.

e.g.

  • 2 storeys + a basement level which does not protrude more than 1m above the defined natural ground level would not require a DA
  • 2 storeys + ground floor bathroom, laundry and stairway would not require a DA
  • 2 storeys + above ground garage = 3 storeys and would require a DA

It is important to note that you will still need to be below 9.5m and meet all other acceptable outcomes of the dwelling house and dwelling house small lot codes.

 

Step 2: Assess for Code Compliance

So using the above definitions you should know whether your house has or is being designed to be two or three storeys.  Now if you are at three storeys you will need to have your private urban planner assess against the dwelling house code (or dwelling house small lot code where applicable).

Specifically for building’s storeys, we refer to Acceptable Outcome AO2 below

AO2

Development in the Low density residential zone, Character residential zone, 2 storey mix zone precinct of the Low–medium density residential zone, 2 or 3 storey mix zone precinct of the Low–medium density residential zone, Rural residential zone, Environmental management zone, Rural zone or Emerging community zone results in a maximum building height of 9.5m and:

(a) 2 storeys; or

(b) 1 storey if the development also includes a space that is situated between one floor level and the floor level next above, or if there is no floor above, the ceiling or roof above that contains only a bathroom, shower room, laundry, water closet, or other sanitary compartment.

The acceptable outcome clearly states that a dwelling house should not exceed 2 storeys where within Low density residential zone, Character residential zone, 2 storey mix zone precinct of the Low–medium density residential zone, 2 or 3 storey mix zone precinct of the Low–medium density residential zone, Rural residential zone, Environmental management zone, Rural zone or Emerging community zone.

It should be clear by this point as to whether you will require a development application. Non compliance with the above will result in your private urban planner justifying the proposal against the below performance outcome PO2.

 

Development has a building height that:

(a) does not unduly overshadow adjoining dwelling houses and their associated private open space in terms of access to sunlight and daylight – to be demonstrated through shadow diagrams

(b) is consistent with the building height of dwelling houses prevailing in the immediate vicinity, meaning the building height of the majority (more than 50%) of all the dwelling houses in the same zone as the subject site and within 35m of any point of the street frontage of the subject site – to be demonstrated though mapping

(c) contains a 3 storey component only where necessary to enable a predominately 2 storey dwelling to address the local circumstances of topography (refer to below Figure); – to be demonstrated through a section and elevation plan

(d) may be higher than adjoining properties only to the extent required to achieve the minimum habitable floor levels required for flood immunity – only applicable to flood affected properties.

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